As I have written in the past, The New York Times has had a pattern of sensationalizing the status of student loan debt in the country through a series of articles that misrepresent the true status of borrowing. It is a mystery to me why the Times persists in doing so, as they have also published articles that more accurately show the true state of affairs. The most recent misrepresentation appeared last week in an article authored by Kevin Carey, a frequent critic of higher education in this country. Earlier this year I wrote a critique of Carey’s most recent book, The End of College.
In his Times article Carey tells the story of Liz Kelley, a 48-year-old woman who borrowed $26,278 to earn a bachelor’s degree in English in 1994, but whose student loan debt today totals $410,000 – yes, $410,000! As Carey points out, this is a sum of money Ms. Kelley is unlikely to be able to ever pay back given her current career as a teacher at a parochial school. Her total borrowing ballooned because of additional debt she took on for graduate programs (in law, which she didn’t complete, and then education), and the fact that she was infrequently, if at all, actively repaying her loans.
Continue reading “The New York Times misrepresents student debt – again”
As I have written in the past, a lot of attention is currently being paid to the topic of student loan debt in the United States (a couple of representative posts can be found here and here). Earlier this year, President Obama proposed to make community college free for all students, motivated at least in part by concerns over the growing volume of student loan debt in the nation. With the 2016 presidential campaign starting to gear up, there are already indications that student loans will be an important topic of debate.
I recently received in my email inbox a request to sign a petition to “forgive all student loan debt” in the country. The email did not come from some fringe group that was an offshoot of the Occupy Movement that first started a few years ago, and included as one of its platforms the elimination of all student loan debt. The email came from the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teacher union in the country, representing over 1.6 million members. The AFT, in conjunction with other groups, is calling on President Obama and Congress to wipe out all of the existing $1.3 trillion in loan debt held by current and former college students in the nation.
Continue reading “Why I won’t sign the petition to cancel all student debt”
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted Tuesday to end its seven-day-old strike, and the teachers were back in the schools yesterday. The strike, at the nation’s third largest school district, received quite a bit of attention across the nation, with coverage on major media outlets. There were a number of contentious issues in the negotiations between the CTU and the Chicago Board of Education, but none was more vigorously contested than that of teacher evaluations.
How to effectively assess teacher performance has been hotly debated in educational policy – and research – circles in recent years. Historically, at least in those school districts around the country that were unionized, there was relatively little formal teacher evaluation and assessment done once a teacher had been tenured, which generally occurred within the first four years of his or her career (disclosure: while I have never been a member of a teacher’s union, my wife has been in the past).
Continue reading “Strikes and scores”